What Makes a Hall of Famer?
Sunday night, I posted who I thought might be a shoe-in for enshrinement in Cooperstown. Here are some other interesting candidates that have made cases for themselves for entry into the Hall.
The Rocket played 24 years in the Majors, finishing with 354 wins and picking up 4,672 strikeouts in the process. Now that we’re down here in the list, we talk about the “era” of what made the 1990s what they were. But in his early days, his 3rd year in the league with Boston he had 24 wins, in his fourth season, 1987, he won 20, threw 18 complete games, and threw 281.2 innings (which didn’t lead the league-he led the league in IP twice in his career.) Clemens won a couple World Series with the Yankees, then won 18 games and the Cy Young Award in his age-41 season in Houston, then threw to a 1.87 ERA in his age-42 season. He finally came back for a big contract with the Yankees to retire after 24 years in the big leagues. It is Roger’s 5th year on the ballot.
The man with the big head received 44.3 percent of the votes last year. A temperamental character, Bonds spent his first seven years with the Pirates, where he won his first two MVP awards. Bonds is a bit controversial with many in baseball, as he was linked to some mischievous performance enhancers. But let’s look at some of his seasons-he lead the league in walks 12 times-including his last 7 healthy season, Bonds also led the league in getting on base 10 times, and intentional walks 12 times. Bonds finished his career with the biggest marks in walks at 2,558 (688 intentional!) and finished his career with 762 home runs, seven more than Hank Aaron. Barry hit 28 homers in his last season, but his personality might have kept other teams from signing him. The all-time hit king (Pete Rose) might never make it, but the all-time home run leader might make some momentum toward induction.
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez!
Last year, catcher Mike Piazza made it into the Hall; eventually Ivan Rodriguez should get in. Another perennial all star in my youth, “Pudge” Rodriguez was elected to 14 Midsummer Classics. Rodriguez led the American League in defensive games as a catcher 5 times, and is the all-time MLB leader in games caught with 2,427. With all the games caught, “Pudge” is also the leader in putouts as a catcher. Three times he led the league in runners caught stealing, and ranks 39th all-time in that category. Wrapping up his defense, Ivan Rodriguez won 13 Gold Gloves. There was some pop in his bat as well. In 1999, Pudge won AL MVP with a .332 batting average with 35 homers and 113 RBI. Pudge ended his career with a .296 batting average, 2,844 hits, and 311 home runs.
Edgar Martinez spent his entire 18-year career with the Seattle Mariners. After some injuries and mishaps, after 1994, Martinez played most of his games at designated hitter. Of course, I spent a lot of my days as a designated hitter. Martinez was selected for seven All-Star Games and won the Silver Slugger Award 5 times, (as a third baseman in 1992). His on-base plus slugging percentage ranks 33rd all time at .933-he was top 8 in the American League eight different seasons. He ended his career with a .312 average. Many are looking for a DH to make the Hall; much like relief pitchers, it is a niche and hard to get in without every benchmark. Twins manager Paul Molitor played third base and second base during his career, but played a number of games as a designated hitter, but Molitor also recorded 3,319 hits in his Hall of Fame career to Martinez’s 2,247. Edgar Martinez does have the designated hitter award named after him though.
For some, Vlad's induction would be sentimental, as perhaps the former Montreal Expos outfielder could go in representing the team that no longer exists. I remember him for his days with the Angels. In his last season with Baltimore, he still hit .290! Looking at Guerrero's offense, the right fielder was good enough for eight silver sluggers (once as a designated hitter), with career numbers of a .318 average (the same as Kirby Puckett), 449 home runs, and ranks 24th all-time in slugging percentage, with a .553 career mark. A feared hitter, Guerrero was intentionally walked 250 times in his career, 5th in the all-time MLB rankings. Sometimes he still swung anyway, and was a good bad-ball hitter. But he was just as fun to watch in the outfield. His strong arm stopped many baserunners from taking an extra base; Vlad ranks 28th all-time in assists as a right fielder. Those could have been more had people stopped being cautious. Guerrero is on the ballot for the first time.
I started this article with controversy, I'll end it with controversy. Sammy Sosa hit 609 homers in his career, including 66 in his MVP year in 1998, when he was battling Mark McGwire to top the single-season record of Roger Maris. Sosa hit over 60 home runs two other times in his career without leading MLB in any of those seasons! For ten straight years, 35 or more home runs came off his bat, 6 straight seasons of 49+ included in that run. Sosa helped bring the popularity of baseball up a few years after a strike stopped the World Series.
Some of these you may not agree with, but they're letting Bud Selig into the Hall this year too. Thanks to MLB's YouTube page for highlights.